It started with the odd telegram or two when he was in Italy or France or New Orleans: "Ate a sausage today from the local charcuterie good enough to make me weep. See for yourself - recipe included. Have tissues handy." or "Had the most delectable double-decker chocolate cake today" or "Corned beef turned out well. Tell "Poppa" it was just like we used to make."
My Poppa would always smile and shake his head. "He's a bon vivant!" he'd exclaim, as if this explained everything. "With an appetite..." I added.
It was when he started sending the curios that things got out of hand. Boxes of beads and shells from South America, torn book pages, receipts and checks from his early exploits, foreign currency from across the globe, a horse skull from his weekend with Georgia O’Keeffe, a (luckily, dead) tarantula from Australia, five typewriters, at least as many broken victrola horns, and a fortune-teller's hand. Each box was accompanied by a recipe, an observation about an exotic fruit or vegetable, or sometimes just a bottle of whiskey. (I confess, those packages I liked the best...)
"Mr. Van Lloyd," I wrote back to him, unsure of how to address this puckish man who seemed inexplicably exuberant for his years... (I have never been able to pin down his exact age) "Your missives never fail to surprise and delight, but if you don't stop soon, I'll have to open up my own restaurant just so I have an excuse to make all this stuff!" "Call me Van Lloyd," He wrote back, "Never did care for "Mr.", or my first name. Regarding restaurant - capital idea. Make it happen. See enclosed check."
And so, we did.
Welcome to Van Lloyd's Bistro.